Tuesday, October 26, 2004

What do you mean by better?

I was wandering around my agency, I'll just call the Death Star, looking to nab some extra office supplies, when I happened upon a group of Imperial Stormtroopers talking about DC housing prices. I could not help myself, I joined in the conversation. I made a comment explaining why some neighborhoods are getting so pricey in that the area was getting better. One trooper looked at me with a steely look and asked, "What do you mean by better?"
In one second I noticed I was standing on the edge of a muck hole of race and class issues, so I said, "Oh, the crime has gone down." The trooper reflected, agreed and went on talking.
I keep forgetting the race and class issues when I say the neighborhood is getting better. Some can interpret the statement negatively, and they do have a point, as for some others "better" means doing away with the old residents of a neighborhood. I have seen articles in the Washington Post about how older residents feel threatened by newcomers who demand a different way of life. These newcomers are usually white and middle class and the old timers are black with a wide range of income levels.
But what do I mean by better? I feel safer. Whether not I actually AM safer is another thing but I FEEL safer walking down the street, going home. I can chalk it up to not seeing as many people hanging out in certain spots and the crowd of young people loitering down the block seems to have dwindled a bit. Joggers & dog walkers, they strangely make me feel safer, despite all my complaints about them.
I also mean better in aesthetics. An abandoned house is not a pretty thing. Every other house on the block abandoned is just plain ugly and depressing. Rehabbed houses, new construction, and sometimes a new paint job make it easy on the eyes when walking down the street. At times, a house can be inspiring and uplifting, far better than being depressed by decay.
Another "better" is being able to spend my money in my neighborhood. If there are more opportunities for me to go out and eat or buy somewhere near my home, that is a good thing. I am trying to train myself to go to Logan Hardware over the chaotic Rhode Island Ave Home Depot. I do try to keep an eye open for businesses close to home worthy of my money. And if it is just one thing, like milk, I will go to G&G quickie mart. Before, I had to leave Shaw to buy somethings or the mini marts had nothing I wanted to buy or were too icky to even think of walking in.
It's getting better.
Hopefully, the neighborhood can keep all her citizens black, white and latino, working class to upper middle class, and all who work for "better".


At 10/29/2004 1:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes I am annoyed by the 'older' residents of a transitional neighborhood who haven't done a thing with their yard in years. Trees grown into fences, junk in the front yard, overgrowth, etc. I know some of them may not be in the most robust health, and perhaps on limited incomes, but packets of seeds are cheap, or weeding a 10'X 10' area ain't that hard! Is the concern about the new neighbors a concern for having to clean up their act? - Jimbo

At 10/29/2004 7:17 PM, Blogger Mari said...

Well when people 1st move in they have the energy and drive to "improve". I'm in year 3 and I have little drive. I got rid of the weed trees 1st and 2nd year. Tree chopping ain't cheap. Just to cut off a big honking branch that was overhanging on to my yard I was charged $500. Not cheap. Neighbors down the block paid over $1,000 to get rid of a large tree in their backyard.
It just isn't money it is also time. Some folks don't have it or are willing to devote any time to gardening.

At 11/01/2004 3:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, trees are another matter altogether. But I can show you some plants that thrive in DC that don't require much maintenance...english ivy, Russian sage (fragrant!) or even be a botanical rebel and plant castor beans!


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